Kosovo doctors' organ trafficking convictions confirmed

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - Two Kosovo doctors were convicted for a second time on Thursday of involvement in an organ trafficking ring that performed illegal kidney transplants at a clinic near the capital Pristina.

The defendants had been convicted in 2013 but a higher court ordered a retrial in 2016.

The director of the Medicus clinic, urologist Lutfi Dervishi, had his sentence reduced by six months to seven-and-a half years. Anesthetist Sokol Hajdini had his sentence cut to one year from three.

Dervishi’s son, Arban, who was jailed for seven years, could not be included in the retrial because he is in hiding.

Judge Franciska Fiser said the defendants had recruited at least seven donors by advertising on the internet “and operated on them at the Medicus clinic with the aim of obtaining their organs, kidneys, for the purpose of exploitation”.

Fiser is a member of the European Union’s EULEX police and justice mission, which since 2008 been helping to develop Kosovo’s justice system by handling sensitive cases such as war crimes, organized crime and corruption.

Donors from Turkey and poor parts of the former Soviet Union were promised 10,000-12,000 euros for their kidneys, while recipients, mainly Israelis, paid 70,000-110,000 euros for the organs.

The organ case is the highest-profile brief handled by EULEX, whose mission ends in June. Independent law monitors fear that local judges may seek to retry some sensitive cases.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Kevin Liffey